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Originally published June 30, 2010 at 3:04 p.m., updated July 1, 2010 at 2:56 p.m.
TOPEKA A new non-profit corporation will oversee the exchange of electronic health information in Kansas.
Gov. Mark Parkinson today issued Executive Order 10-06 creating the entity. It will be governed by a 17-member board of directors, most of whom will be named by the governor at a later date.
The federal economic stimulus of 2009 included $34 billion in incentives for medical providers to maintain and use electronic health records for their patients.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act also called for creation of state or regional health information exchanges so the records could be easily transferred from one provider or treatment location to the next.
The federal goal is for every American to have a digitized health record by 2014 and an exchange system that would allow, for example, an emergency room doctor in Florida or Hawaii timely access to the medical history of a vacationing Kansan who had suffered a heart attack.
Kansas was awarded a $9 million federal grant in February to develop a health information exchange plan, which the e-Health Advisory Council has been working on for several months.
Transition to a permanent board
The new corporation, Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc., will oversee development and operation of the exchange.
The 11-member e-HAC steering committee will act as the transitional governing board for the corporation until the permanent board is in place.
The 17-member, permanent board of Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. once appointed will include:
The governor said a good health information exchange system will make health care more effective and cheaper.
“A strong health information exchange will not only improve patient care, but it will add efficiencies and thus cost savings to our health care system in Kansas,” Parkinson said in a prepared statement. “As we work to have an electronic health record for every Kansan in the next four years, we also remain focused on protecting the safety and security of their information."
Jeff Ellis, who heads the e-HAC working group on governance, led the attorneys who drafted the plan for the corporation.
He called the executive order a positive development.
"It's good that it can be started as soon as possible," he said in a phone interview.
Pushing for consistent privacy laws
Ellis, an attorney with the Kansas City firm of Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne, was in Seattle for a conference of the American Health Lawyers Association.
A main topic of the conference, he said, was the question of how states will harmonize their privacy laws so that there can be relatively seamless transfer of digital health records from state to state or from one information exchange to another.
"It's a big topic of national concern," he said.
The Ellis-led e-HAC working group has proposed various changes to Kansas privacy law so that it would align more closely with federal privacy laws. Those proposed changes have not yet been presented to the Legislature for consideration.
Ellis has consistently called for more urgency in mending what he has described as a "patchwork" of conflicting statutes that could hinder adoption of health information technology.
He said he is tentatively scheduled to meet next week with Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Roderick Bremby and a representative of the Attorney General's Office to go over the privacy law questions.
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